Thomas Jefferson Papers

Gilbert C. Russell to Thomas Jefferson, 4 January 1810

From Gilbert C. Russell

Fort Pickering Chickasaw Bluffs January 4th 1810.


Conceiving it a duty incumbent upon me to give the friends of the late Merriwether Lewis such information releative to his arrival here his stay and departure, and also of his pecuniary matters as came within my knowledge which they otherwise might not ascertain, and presumeing that as you were once his Patron, you still remain’d his friend, I beg leave to communicate it to you and thro’ you to his mother and such other of his friends as may be interested.

He came here on the 15th September last from whence he set off intending to go to Washington by way of New Orleans. His situation I tho’t rendered it necessary that he should be stoped until he would recover, which I done & in a short time by proper attention a change was perceptible and in about Six days he was perfectly restored in every respect & able to travel. Being placed then myself in a similar situation with him by having Bills protested to a considerable amount I had made application to the General & expected leave of absence every day to go to Washington on the same business with Governor Lewis. In consequence of which he waited six or eight days expecting that I would go on with him, but in this we were disappointed & he set off with a Major Neely who was going to Nashville

At the request of Governor Lewis I enclosed the land Warrant granted to him in consideration of his services to the Pacific Ocean to Bowling Robinson Esq Sec’y of the Te’y of Orleans with instructions to dispose of it at any price above two dollars per Acre & to lodge the money in the Bank of the United States or any of the branch banks subject to his Order

He left with me two Trunks a case and a bundle which will now remain here subject at any time to your Order or that of his legal representatives. Enclosed is his Memor respecting them but before the Boat in which he directed they might be sent got to this place I recd a verbal message from him after he left here, to Keep them untill I should hear from him again.

He set off with two Trunks which contain’d all his papers relative to his expedition to the pacific Ocean, Genl Clarks Land Warrant a Port-Folio, pocket Book Memor and note Book together with many other papers of both a public & private nature—two horses two saddles & bridles a Rifle gun pistols Pipe Tommy hawk & dirk, all ellegent & perhaps about two hundred & twenty dollars, of which $99⁵⁸⁄₁₀₀ was a Treasurers Check on the U.S. branch Bank of Orleans endorsed by me. The horses one saddle and this Check I let him have. Where or what has become of his effects I do not know: but presume they must be in the care of Major Neely near Nashville.

As an individual I verry much regret the untimely death of Governor Lewis whose loss will be great to his Country & severely felt by his friends. When he left this I felt much satisfaction for indeed I tho’t I had been the means of preserving the life of one valuable man; and as it has turn’d out I still have the consolation that I discharged those obligations towards him that man is bound to do to his fellow.

It is probable that I shall go to the City of Washington in a few Weeks—if so I shall give you a call and give you any further information you may require that has come within my Knowledge.

Having had the pleasure of knowing Mr T.M. Randolph, I pray you to tender my respects to him.

I remain Sir with the utmost Veneration & respect Your Obdt Servant.

Gilbert. C. Russell

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esq.”; endorsed by TJ as received 5 Feb. 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

Gilbert Christian Russell (1782–1855), a native of Tennessee, was appointed an ensign in the United States Army in 1803. After rising to the rank of first lieu tenant, he resigned from the service in 1807 but rejoined the army as a captain in 1808. After being promoted to major, Russell was given command of Fort Pickering at Chickasaw Bluffs (now Memphis, Tennessee) in 1809. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1811 and colonel in 1814. Russell was honorably discharged from the army in 1815 and spent most of the remainder of his life as a merchant and contractor in Mobile, Alabama. Russell County in that state was named for him in 1832 (Willis Brewer, Alabama: Her History, Resources, War Record and Public Men [1872, repr. 1975], 394–5; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 853; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:458–9, 480, 481, 2:61, 63, 82, 105, 107, 151, 154, 200, 203 [18, 22 Nov. 1803, 14, 17 Jan. 1805, 2, 9 Dec. 1807, 23 Apr. 1808, 25 Jan., 2 Feb. 1809, 30 Apr., 1 May 1810, 31 Dec. 1811, 2 Jan. 1812]).

In consideration of their services to the pacific ocean, in March 1807 Congress awarded Meriwether Lewis and William Clark land warrants entitling each to either 1,600 acres west of the Mississippi River or “two dollars per acre, in payment of any such public lands” (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States . . . Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. Citations given below are to the edition mounted on the American Memory website of the Library of Congress and give the date of the debate as well as page numbers. description ends , 9th Cong., 2d sess., 1278 [3 Mar. 1807]). bowling robinson: Thomas Bolling Robertson.

Index Entries

  • Bank of Orleans search
  • Bank of the United States; deposits in search
  • Clark (Clarke), William; land warrant granted to search
  • Congress, U.S.; awards land warrants search
  • Lewis, Lucy Meriwether search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; and J. Neelly search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; death of search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; land warrant granted to search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; papers of search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; personal belongings of search
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition; land warrants awarded in consequence of search
  • Neelly, James; and M. Lewis’s effects search
  • Orleans Territory; banks in search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); greetings to search
  • Robertson, Thomas Bolling; land warrant entrusted to search
  • Russell, Gilbert Christian; and M. Lewis’s belongings search
  • Russell, Gilbert Christian; identified search
  • Russell, Gilbert Christian; letters from search
  • saddles search
  • suicide; and M. Lewis search